Friday, 27 March 2015

The River

My dog likes salad. Shocking but true. I accidentally dropped mine on the way to the table because he was running under my feet. He ate it all. Lettuce, tomatoes, olives, goat cheese, avocado, red peppers, balsamic vinaigrette. Max is obviously very health conscious and clumsy. Just like me. :) 

I saw Ross today as per every Friday. Fridays are my fragile days. The rest of the week and up until 3 pm? Bring it on. after that though, I'm not so well. 

Ross: How's the 4 am thing going?

Me: The usual. 

I have nightmares and I wake up with a panic attack every day at 4 am. Maybe you wouldn't call them nightmares. It's just these old memories of people who are no longer around and they come back. They seem real and they haunt me. I wake up in a panic. 

Today Ross had an idea. He was like, you want to cut your family off? Do a visualization. Put them on a raft. Say goodbye if you like, but they're floating away. So I came home and I took his advice. I lit some candles and thought about it. 

It's funny because I told my brother if I died before him I'd like to be set out to sea on a raft. Have some bagpipes playing (I'm mostly Irish but I'm also Scottish.) And then it would be really cool if someone could send a flaming arrow and burn me up. 

So I put them out on a river. First Linda. She didn't have that annoying disappointed look on her face that I've seen a million times. She is smiling. Then Erin. She's not so happy but she goes. Then a really big raft with all the people who show up in my dreams and still haunt my life - all my ex-best friends. They're on the party boat. But they don't seem happy either. They pretend they are happy because that's what Jehovah's Witnesses do. Otherwise, how could we convince you to join us?

Lastly but most importantly, is my ex-husband.  He doesn't like being social so as usual, he's in the corner, strumming a guitar. He's always fine on his own so no need to worry about him. Yet, he is the only one I cry for. 

I don't send Vivian out on a raft. I can't do that, she's my baby. 

Will this finally make the nightmares stop? I doubt it. But if I can sleep past 4 am, that's a win in my books. 

Sullivan out.  

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Dreamer

"The ship is safest when it's in port, but that's not what ships were built for." ~ Paulo Coelho

Life's messy. A lot of the time, it makes absolutely no sense at all.  Lately, I don't really know what to think. Why does this stuff happen? Yesterday was my uncle Ken's birthday and we all still miss him. A heart that has truly loved never forgets. I had a good friend over the other night and I was showing him pictures of my past life. 

Me: I was pretty wasn't I? I look happy. 

Him: You're still pretty and happy now. Just in a different way.

And it's true. It's been a long hard battle the past 5 years, sometimes I've looked in the mirror and I had no idea who I was. Yesterday, I started to feel more like myself than I have in a long time. Or maybe more un-like myself which would be a better thing. :)

The past month and a half have been rough. I cried so much I broke blood vessels in my eyes. But they're almost healed now and I think I'm getting there too. I love my new job. I hate change but it's challenging and new and sometimes we need to leave the port and set sail again to find something good. It doesn't mean we won't weather some storms. But the storms come and go whether we ever decide to put ourselves out there or not. 

Walking home from work yesterday, the sun was shining, I was smiling and I was surprised to realize for the first time in 6 or 7 weeks, the smile was real. It's a lot of effort to pretend to be happy and unless you've dealt with depression you may not understand just how much effort it takes. It's exhausting. 

Sometimes when the waters get rough, you think it may have been better to stay in the port. Where it felt safe. I needed to remind myself over the past weeks that it was just as much - no more - effort to pretend I was happy in an unhappy marriage. In a religion that required so much work but I didn't believe in anymore. In relationships that took and took and took and didn't give much back in return.

I think this most recent storm is over. I feel happy again. All I really need is a few good friends, a few people in my family who are always there for me. I have that. I have family and friends who have always been there for me in every way I could have possibly needed them and they always will be. Now that I'm feeling better, I'll do everything I can to repay the favor. 

I still haven't completely lost the dreamer I once was. When times get tough, I always have yoga and red lipstick and now I have a big ass dog and a sword. That's enough to fake it until it gets real again. 

Here's your Wednesday morning song: I'm just a dreamer but I'm hanging on, though I am nothing big to offer. I watch the birds how they dive in then gone. It's like nothing in the world's ever still...

Happy birthday Ken. I'm sorry I'm a day late, I couldn't find the right words last night. 

Sullivan out. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Through the Looking-Glass

Alright. It's been a month. I'm ready to talk about the wedding. 

From the pictures I've seen, my sister looked beautiful. When she came over to drop off my invitation, I said "Are you sure?" I know how I'm perceived by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Apostasy is the worst sin you could ever commit. Speaking out against the organization is not only grounds for disfellowshipping, it's everlasting death. Spoiler alert: we're all heading for everlasting death. So let's make the most of the life we have now. :)

She responded: "Of course. You're my sister and you're not disfellowshipped. Of course I want you there."

Erin and I have a lot of history. Our family has been pretty messed up from the start. My father has his own issues, then my mother decided to join a cult. He remarried and oddly enough, the only person I have a relationship with now is Helena. They aren't mom and dad anymore though, they are just John and Linda. 

Any time things hit a rough patch, Erin would come live with me. Once we had nowhere to put her but the storage closet. We accidentally closed the door with the Cat in there and she peed all over the bed. Good times. :)

I've been trying to cover this up the best way I could, but I'm on a network at my job that works on health and mental health issues. I was writing an article for them this week on Purple Day which is next week to raise awareness for Epilepsy. 

I started to feel ashamed. I spend all this energy trying to be an advocate. To break down stigmas, raise awareness, help people dealing with difficult situations to feel less alone. And here I am, at home feeling terrible about the fact that for the second time in five years, I'm depressed. 

The first time, when I was disfellowshipped, I thought there was a coming back from it. I got myself reinstated with the JWs, I tried to find a way back to my family. Was I angry with them for shunning me? Oh yeah. Did I trust them? Not at all. Until Erin and I were wedding dress shopping. Facetiming with Linda while she tried on different outfits to wear. Until it seemed that my position back in the family was secure. Then I made the worst mistake. 

I'm a hopeless romantic, and I decided to trust again. Something I haven't done in five, no almost 6 now, years. I bought a really pretty dress. I took Erin to my therapist with me and listened to her talk through all her fears about the wedding and how she thought every single member of our immediate family would get drunk and embarrass her. 

Yet, I was the only one uninvited at the last minute. Apparently I make the JWs nervous. This time is worse than the first time. You can only understand it if you've been through it. I tried to check myself into the hospital so I wouldn't hurt myself this time. They wouldn't take me, after about 7 hours they sent me home with a pamphlet on feeling sad and some 1-800 numbers to call. 

Why is it worse than the first time? Because I know now that this time has to be the last time. I've suffered some pretty severe repercussions of this most recent spiral into depression. Breaking up with your family is the worst break-up ever. 

I thought again about going back to them. I watched a video on their website from one of their leaders. He seems absolutely insane so no, I've walked through the looking glass, fell down the rabbit hole and there's no going back. 

I wish there was a switch you could flick because out here, I have mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who truly love me unconditionally. I have a great job, a lovely apartment, wonderful friends. Anything a girl could ask for. But your family always has that hold over you, the one you wish didn't exist. 

The good thing about getting through depression once, is that you know the "depression lies" slogan is true. If we could tell the truth, there's really only a few people who have rejected me. Compared to a ton of people who care and make my life better every single day. I know I wax poetic on here but seriously - I am very grateful and as soon as I get over my most recent break-up, I'll be just fine. The other side of the looking glass is strange but it's where I'm supposed to be. 

Sullivan out. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Reality Bites

I have good news. I have a new job. I miss the old job already, but mostly just the people. My old boss Stuart always said "Onward and upward!". He had so many lines and buzzwords we actually played Stuart Buzzword Bingo the night we said goodbye to him. I still have his playing board on the wall because apparently I'm a hoarder and don't know how to say good-bye to anyone. 

This new job was a long time coming, but worth the wait. It's a big learning curve and I'm trying to keep up. It is a much better fit for me and I'm excited. After five years it was time to move on. 

But y'all know I hate change. There's all those people out there who think change is fun, it's exciting. I don't know if it was because I was raised JW that I don't know the best way to process even the best of changes. They made me scared. 

My brother invited me over about a month ago and we watched Reality Bites. If you didn't grow up in the 90s and want to know how that went, just rent the movie. It's pretty accurate. Even the scene where they go to the gas station and buy treats with her dad's gas card. I did that back in the day. I was driving a black Bronco and going to the movies with Scott, my rugby star non-JW boyfriend. We went in and bought all the treats we wanted for the movies on daddy's gas card. I guess I've never been 100% straight laced. :)

That seems like 100 years ago. I honestly never thought I'd get older than 23, that life would continue as it does. It seems ridiculous looking back, but I thought Armageddon was coming and I would live forever in a Paradise on earth. I actually believed that. Now I know the truth. The truth is, we go to work. Some of us are lucky enough to enjoy it. Some of us are lucky enough to be surrounded with the best people you could hope for. I'm one of those people and I'm very grateful. 

Then we come home, eat something, watch some tv. Maybe grab a drink with a friend. If we're very, very lucky, we might fall in love, have someone to count the days with. If it happens, we could have a kid. That would be lovely. It doesn't change the fact though, that I'm not ready to confront the reality that we're all going to die. My therapist can't help me, my friends can't help me. 

When I was in the hospital for surgery on the weekend, I asked the anesthesiologist if there was a chance I might die from the drugs. She just said vaguely that there's a chance of anything in life. It was very comforting. :)

They kept saying: "You're alone. Why are you alone?"

I should have told them it's because they won't let big ass dogs into the OR. Or because most of the people I love most don't live live within driving distance to the OR. 

It hasn't been a stellar week. I am happy about the new job though and grateful for the people who have got me this far. Reality Bites. 

Sullivan out.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Game of Thrones

I ordered a sword on the advice of my therapist. Insane that you can get that shit on the internet. I was taking it out of the box and Max was right there. I accidentally hit him on the head. I'm clumsy. 

The good thing is he's scared of me now. And he should be. I have a sword. :)

I took him out for a walk today. A very nice man stopped to pet him and tell me what a beautiful dog I had. It happens all the time, my dog is beautiful.

Me: I know you. Are you a Jehovah's Witness?

Him: excitedly! Yes are you?

Me: Not anymore. 

He averted his eyes and stopped petting the dog. He turned the other way, as did I. 

I know now what my path is in life. I cannot even rely on regular human kindness from someone petting my dog. They will spend their time trying to recruit crack addicts, drug dealers, single moms, immigrants, anyone who might need them. Anyone who leaves though - we should have known better. We're the absolute bottom of the line. Our families will send us very polite emails when we need to know someone in the family is dying. It's robotic. 

And to my non-JW family out there - don't send me that email. I don't need to read it. I'm just fine considering. If you can't understand depression, I don't want to talk to you. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Keep Your Head Up

"I try my best to embrace the darkness" - Ben Howard

I know, I just can't stop with the song lyrics. Song writers just get everything better than we do. At least, they express it better than we do. 

Before you start reading this, I want to let you know this entire post is about my dog. If that doesn't interest you I'd rather not waste your time. 

I know, I used to be more interesting. I used to date. I had a lot of fun stories. Now it's just me and Max. Actually, it's me, a jailbird, two cats and Max. My own bed feels really full. Maybe that's why I started sleeping on the couch. 

Life doesn't always work out the way you think it will. Poor Max was abandoned on New Years Day. His owners (who had actually named him Atlanta - bullshit name right?) asked me to take care of him for a few days and then never responded to emails, texts, phone calls, ever again and moved to Australia. 

I can't make this shit up

Max is not the kind of dog I would have chosen for myself. I'm very girl girl and I probably would have picked something small. Something I could put in my purse. Or in the basket on that pretty bike I don't own yet. 

But the Universe works in mysterious ways. I know what it's like to be abandoned by the people you love. I know what it's like to be homeless, to be friendless. And I never do that to anyone else. So he's mine. And he's as perfectly imperfect as I am. 

I have bruises and scratches everywhere because he's a puppy and he doesn't realize he is half as big as me. He loves to just jump up and sit on my lap. (He's way too big to be a lap dog but he doesn't know that yet.)

He also loves to cuddle in bed. He makes me smile every day. When I got him, everyone told me to get rid of him. Now, after some recent disappointments and a very public spiral into depression, all I hear is we're so happy you have the dog. And I am too. 

I never thought I'd be this girl but I don't care about the drool, picking up the poop, I don't care about the smell of the dog in the apartment. All I care about is all this love. When life gets you down, you do have to keep your head up. You do have to embrace the darkness. But it's easier when you have others to do it with. 

Sullivan out.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Fragile Bird

Over 2,500 years ago, the Buddha identified anger as one of the three poisons that hinder our progress towards liberation from suffering. 

In psychology, it's also #2 in the five stages of grief. Grieving is a personal process that has no time limit and no one "right way" to do it. 

I'm so over the Jehovah's Witnesses. There are only five people who still have a hold over me, who are able to make me sad, bring back the depression, the sleepless nights, the panic attacks. People I have been trying to forget about for the past five years. They are, in order of importance: Travis, Adam, Vivian, Erin and Linda. I don't usually use real names on here anymore so you may have no idea who they are and that's okay. I just wanted to say their names. 

I'm a little bit angry at them, but anger has never really been my go-to emotion. I mostly just get sad. 

Below is a link to an interesting article. Almost half of the people dealing with depression and mental health issues wouldn't disclose them - to family, work, friends. For fear of the stigma related to the condition. If you have cancer, that's socially acceptable. People will rally around you, support you, talk about their friend who is fighting such a courageous battle. (And they should - this is in no way trying to belittle what those brave people go through.) This battle though? Is for the most part silent. God forbid anyone knows you're crying in the bathroom at work, faking your smile at lunch with a friend or even worse, not leaving the house at all so you don't have to put in all that effort.

We should talk about it though. We should make those who are suffering feel they have support to speak up and seek help. The alternative? On average 4,000 Canadians die every year from suicide. 

Recently, I've been sad again, I've been angry. I can't predict that it won't come back. But I don't want to be that fragile bird that lets other people control how I feel about myself. It's too much power to give them. 

My best friends favorite cousin passed away. She received a short, curt email from the family. No invitation to the funeral. I honestly don't understand these people. Where is their compassion and love they preach so passionately about? 

There has been a wave of media coverage on the sex abuse scandals and cover ups amoungst the Jehovah's Witnesses recently. That makes me happy. Not that those things happened, but that people are becoming strong enough to speak out against them. 

This reporter has done a lot of work to tell the truth:

Let's show our support for all the people who have suffered or are suffering now. For the people who are brave enough to speak out and have a voice. If enough of us can do it, we may be able to make a difference. Not to break the stigma of mental health (that will take much more time). Not to take down a multi-billion dollar organization who pleads the first amendment as a reason they can cover up child abuse cases within their congregations. (That may never happen.)

One of the smartest people I know - my boss - always says we have to start to start

I got this for my birthday (not to kill anyone with, my therapist just thought I needed some inspiration to feel more empowered).

We might be fragile on our own, but together who knows what we can do? Let's not give up and look to each others stories and battles for hope, courage and inspiration. 

Sullivan out.